Christian Biblical Counsel: PERFECTIONISM

Perfectionism

The Push to Perform

by June Hunt

“Is perfectionism good or bad … right or wrong … what does God require? He calls you to be a pursuer of excellence, not a prisoner of perfectionism.”

—June Hunt

I.     DEFINITIONS

A. What Is Perfection?

Perfection has two different meanings.

•     The contemporary connotation

Perfection is being sinless, flawless, free from fault or defect.

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.” (2 Samuel 22:31)

•     The biblical connotation

Perfection is being mature, complete and whole.

In Hebrew the word kalil means “completeness, wholeness.” Satan, who was called the “model of perfection, was created perfect and without sin. Later, he chose to sin.

—  Complete, But Not Sinless

In Hebrew the word tamim means “entire and complete,” and in a moral sense, righteous. God has completely provided all that is necessary for you to walk righteously.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘You [Satan] were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.’ ” (Ezekiel 28:12)

—  Morally Righteous

In Greek the word teleios means “complete or mature” in the sense of full grown. Jesus states that you are to fulfill your potential to become “spiritually mature.”

“We all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13)

—  Spiritually Mature

God in His goodness has designed how He will grow you into spiritual maturity, which is the process of sanctification. The apostle Paul readily admitted that he had not finished maturing, but that Christ had taken hold of him to bring him to maturity.

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

(Philippians 3:12)

Q  “Aren’t Christians called to be perfect?”

Christians are to aim for maturity, wholeness and completeness.

Wrong:

Christians are expected to be perfect—faultless and flawless.

Right:

Christians are expected to be perfect—mature and whole.

“Aim for perfection.” (2 Corinthians 13:11)

B. What Is Perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a pattern of thinking that demands all areas of life be flawless. Anything less than perfect is unacceptable.

“So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there—so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured.”

(Isaiah 28:13)

Detrimental Patterns of Perfectionism

#1  Legalism is

•     a strict adherence to religious rules and regulations with the false hope of earning righteousness

Example:

“If I miss being in church, God won’t bless my life.”

“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.” (Colossians 2:16)

#2  Performance-based Acceptance is

•     a belief that acceptance by God and others is based only on how much is achieved and how perfectly actions are performed

Example:

“I feel I will be accepted based only on how much I do or how well I do.”

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

#3  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is

•     an unhealthy, emotional imbalance that is characterized by persistent, excessive thoughts and inflexible, irrational behavior in a drive for perfection

Example:

“I must have everything neat and straight before I can enjoy eating.”

“Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” (Galatians 3:3)

•     When your desire for excellence becomes a demand for flawlessness, patterns develop that are excessive, detrimental and out of the will of God.

“The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.’ ” (Isaiah 29:13)

Q  “In what way does God expect me to be ‘perfect’?”

You are to be “perfectly suited” for God’s intended purpose.

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

C. What Is Excellence?

Excellence is being over and above average, exceeding and surpassing the ordinary.

“This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”

(Titus 3:8)

The Divine Mandate

•     Exceeding

—  In Greek the noun huperbole means “throwing beyond, surpassing, exceeding, excellence.”

“Eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 12:31)

•     Surpassing

—  In Greek the verb huperecho means “surpassing, excelling.”

“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” (Philippians 3:8)

•     Over and Above

—  In Greek, the verb perisseuo means “to be over and above, to abound, to excel.”

“Excel in gifts that build up the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:12)

There are recognizable differences between the demand for perfection and the desire for excellence. The perfectionist not only fails to rely on God, but also places trust in self-effort. The Bible calls this sin.

Examine yourself:

Are you trusting in your own strength or trusting God to work through your weakness?

“[God said to Paul], ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ [Paul responded], Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

(2 Corinthians 12:9–10)

Q  “What is the difference between being perfectionistic and aiming for excellence?”

Perfectionists feel defeated if they are found at fault in any area. However, Christians are called to rise over and above immaturity, to excel in maturity.

“Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4)

Perfectionism vs. Excellence

Perfectionists take great pain and cause great pain!

The   Demand for Perfection

 

The   Desire for Excellence

 

•     My best isn’t good enough.

 

•     I am pleased with my best.

 

•     I have to get a promotion.

 

•     I hope to get a promotion.

 

•     I must have a spotless house.

 

•     I want to keep a clean house.

 

•     I must make straight A’s.

 

•     I would like to make straight A’s.

 

•     I dread starting this project.

 

•     I look forward to starting this project.

 

•     I’d rather be dead than average.

 

•     I feel competent in many areas.

 

•     I did better than my friends.

 

•     I did better than I’ve ever done.

 

•     I can’t be content if it’s not perfect.

 

•     I’ll be content to do my best.

 

•     It is painful to be a failure.

 

•     Failure is just a part of life.

 

•     I have to do better.

 

•     I would like to do better.

 

•     I feel frustrated by having done this.

 

•     I feel fulfilled by having done this.

 

•     I’ll be perfect if I try hard enough.

 

•     I hope to excel when I give it my best.

 

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

(1 Timothy 6:6)

“The   perfectionist is a man whom it is impossible to please because he is never   pleased with himself.”—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

The   Idealist …

 

The   Realist …

 

•     demands   success.

 

•     desires   success.

 

•     dwells   on mistakes

 

•     learns   from mistakes

 

•     fears   failure

 

•     accepts   failure

 

•     defends   when criticized

 

•     profits   when criticized

 

•     centers on what is accomplished

 

•     centers on how it is accomplished

 

•     despises losing because of feeling unacceptable

 

•     doesn’t like losing but still feels accepted

 

Q  “Doesn’t everyone want a perfectionistic doctor or lawyer or employee?”

No. When new approaches are needed, perfectionists are less flexible to try new ideas or procedures. No matter what our occupation, we are to do our work as though we are working for the Lord.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Colossians 3:23)

 

II.    CHARACTERISTICS

A. Behavioral Characteristics of Perfectionists

The essential feature of perfectionism is compulsive behavior, which results from an insecure need to “go beyond the call of duty.” Instead of joyfully giving out of love, the perfectionist gives out of duty in an effort to please others.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

(Galatians 1:10)

Compulsive

Controls environment, situations and others

must be in control to make sure things go well

Objects to criticism and correction

reacts defensively

Majors on the minors

preoccupied with trivial details

Procrastinates

puts off starting projects for fear of failing

Underestimates time needed to complete tasks

tendency to overcommit

Lacks joy and creativity

inflexible

Sacrifices relationships for projects

stingy with emotions, personal possessions and time with others

Imagines rejection from others

self-rejection—expects to receive disapproval

Vacillates in making decisions

avoids or postpones decisions

Expresses intolerance toward others

critical and impatient with the mistakes and weaknesses in others

Perfectionists seem highly motivated to produce, yet their behavior is actually a compulsive drive to protect themselves from losing self-worth. They live under the law of God (seeking to earn approval and worth) instead of living under the grace of God (accepting unearned approval and worth).

“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

(Romans 8:1–2)

B. Physical Symptoms of Perfectionists

Compulsive behavior takes its toll physically. You cannot escape some of the internal repercussions of a hidden addiction to perfectionism.

•     difficulty relaxing and often feels guilty if not busy all the time

(Thinks, Maybe there was something else I was supposed to do. Maybe there’s a better way to do it.)

•     arthritis

•     muscle tension

•     too little or too much sleep

•     eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia)

•     high blood pressure

•     sexual impotence (due to fear of failure)

•     dizziness

•     stomach problems

•     heart disease

Efforts to earn God’s approval or the approval of others actually result in defeating your good intentions.

“I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.”

(Romans 7:10)

 

III.   CAUSES

A. Surface Causes

Perfectionists continually strive for acceptance because the acceptance they received in the past was based on how well they performed. If parents or other significant people in your life gave you approval only for achievement, the message you received was a setup for perfectionism.

“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”

(Luke 11:52)

Situational Setups

•     Perfectionistic Parents

Message:

“I must be the best.”

•     Workaholic Parents

Message:

“Work is the most important thing.”

•     Alcoholic Parents

Message:

“Someone in the family has to take charge.”

•     Abusive Parents

Message:

“Success will be my great escape.”

The word used today to describe alcoholic or abusive family situations is dysfunctional. Dysfunctional families do not foster a healthy, nurturing or warm environment. As a result, children often feel forced to take on a parental role to keep the family going. For others, achievement in areas outside the home becomes a way to escape the harsh reality of abuse and neglect.

•     Rejecting Parents

Message:

“I just have to try harder.”

Children raised by rejecting parents yearn for love, acceptance and praise. Children who experience rejection don’t feel loved just because of who they are. They believe that performing well will help gain their parents’ approval.

•     Comparing Parents

Message:

“I have to be better than my brother.”

Each child has his or her own gifts and abilities. One of the tragic things we see here is comparison: “Why can’t you be more like your sister, Susie?” “Why can’t you try hard like your brother, James? Follow his example.” Unfortunately, in this situational setup, bitterness often results between the siblings.

•     Firstborn Child

Message:

“I have to be the responsible one.”

Parents have high expectations of their first child (to be extensions of themselves).

•     Only Child

Message:

“All of their hopes are wrapped up in me.”

•     Only Male Child

Message:

“The family name is riding on me.”

•     Social Pressure

Message:

“I need to be at the top!”

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

(Colossians 2:8)

B. Root Cause

The root of perfectionism is pride. Perfectionists act as though they are “equal with God” by thinking they are capable of meeting their own needs. In their own strength they attempt to accomplish what only Christ can do in them and through them.

“In the pride of your heart you say, ‘I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas.’ But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god.”

(Ezekiel 28:2)

Wrong Belief:

“I must always appear competent and able to perform perfectly. I must be successful before I can accept myself, and then others will accept me.”

Right Belief:

I can never be perfect or flawless. My competence comes only from the Lord, who is living His perfect life through me.

“Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:4–5)

IV.  STEPS TO SOLUTION

A. Key Verse to Memorize:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

(John 15:5)

B. Key Passage to Read and Reread:

“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

(Philippians 3:1–14)

Paul the Perfectionist

•     Pre-conversion   Paul

 

Before   accepting Christ and while living in his own strength …

 

—  Placed confidence in his own   abilities

 

v. 4

 

—  Proclaimed his elite status and   heritage

 

v. 5

 

—  Practiced legalism

 

v. 5

 

—  Pursued his goals with zeal

 

v. 6

 

—  Persecuted those he considered   inferior

 

v. 6

 

—  Presumed himself righteous through   personal achievement

 

v. 6

 

•     Post-conversion   Paul

 

After   dying to self and living in Christ’s strength …

 

—  Put no confidence in himself, but   gloried in Christ Jesus

 

v. 3

 

—  Perceived personal gain to be loss

 

v. 7

 

—  Perceived all things rubbish next   to Christ

 

v. 8

 

—  Placed knowing Christ as his   highest goal

 

v. 8

 

—  Professed no personal   righteousness from performance

 

v. 9

 

—  Pursued righteousness from God   through faith in Christ

 

v. 9

 

—  Purposed to experience Christ, His   resurrection power, sufferings and death

 

vv. 10–11

 

—  Proclaimed no perfection in   himself

 

v. 12

 

—  Pressed on to maturity in Christ

 

vv. 13–14

 

C. God’s Messages of Grace

The messages you’ve received from significant people in your past may have given you a false concept of God, yourself and others … making you feel acceptable only if you perform perfectly. But your loving heavenly Father is a God of grace and doesn’t expect perfection from you in order to gain His acceptance.

Replace those perfectionistic thinking patterns with the liberating power of God’s truth.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

(John 8:32)

Message #1

“I don’t always have to measure up—no one is perfect.”

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

Message #2

“I never have to fear losing God’s love because of anything I might or might not do.”

“I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38–39)

Message #3

“I have a clear conscience and am free from guilt over past failures.”

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18–19)

Message #4

“I can live without fear of being condemned, even when I fail to meet the expectations of others.”

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)

Message #5

“I can stop comparing myself to others because God designed me to be unique … a one-of-a-kind person.”

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)

Message #6

“I can confidently take on new challenges. I’m not limited to doing only those things at which I excel.”

“For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.” (Proverbs 3:26)

Message #7

“I don’t have to worry about finding the perfect job or selecting the ideal situation because I can trust God to prepare the way for my future.”

“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Message #8

“I am free to enjoy life. God doesn’t want me in bondage to a set of rules and regulations.”

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

Message #9

“My salvation is a free gift! It’s not based on what I deserve or earn.”

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9)

Message #10

“I am not held accountable for becoming Christlike in my own power. God assumes responsibility for bringing me to maturity.”

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

D. Freedom from the Prison of Performance

Target Your Tendencies

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

(Psalm 139:23–24)

In certain areas of life over 80 % of the population admits to being driven by perfectionism. Ask the Lord to reveal your demanding ideals, for they can easily become …

Pockets of Perfectionism

•     Is orderliness necessary for you to relax?

•     Has cleanliness become an obsession?

•     Do family members have to be exemplary?

•     Is punctuality a must?

•     Does your work always have to be praiseworthy?

•     Must your appearance always be immaculate?

•     Does your specific skill have to be exceptional?

•     Do people have to meet your expectations?

•     Did you respond with a yes to some of these questions?

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

(1 Peter 5:7)

Face Your Feelings

“The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish.” (Psalm 25:17)

•     Recognize your longing for acceptance.

Read the Psalms to find passages that express your deepest feelings.

•     Allow yourself to feel the pain of your past.

Find someone with whom you can pray and share your feelings.

•     Try to understand those in your life who gave only conditional love.

They were probably treated the same way.

•     Let go of your claim against those who have hurt you.

Release your anger and make a conscious choice to forgive.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

(Psalm 34:18)

Commit to Change

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

(Hebrews 12:1)

•     Know that change is difficult.

•     Choose to be satisfied with less than perfection.

•     Cease all comparisons between yourself and others.

•     Eliminate unrealistic expectations of yourself and others.

•     Take responsibility for doing what is right for you.

•     Set some personal goals that will be beneficial.

•     Cultivate the ability to say no!

•     Learn to laugh at your mistakes.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

(Galatians 1:10)

Master Your Mind

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

(Romans 12:2)

•     Eliminate your “all or nothing” thinking.

•     Rid yourself of your rigid personal rules (should’s, ought’s, must’s, have to’s).

•     Keep a daily journal of your negative thoughts about yourself and then replace them with a positive statement about yourself.…

“Thank You, God, for your continual grace toward me.”

•     Tell yourself the truth by memorizing God’s “messages of grace,” such as 2 Peter 3:18.

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever!” (2 Peter 3:18)

•     Pray daily for God’s intervention to help you take charge of your thoughts.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

(2 Corinthians 10:4–5)

Lose Your Life

•     Surrender your demands to have things your way.

•     Let go of your right to live life out of your own resources.

•     Trust God to meet all of your needs.

•     Submit yourself to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

•     Choose to live day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment in dependence on Christ’s life within you.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

(2 Peter 1:3–4)

Grow in Grace

Your God, the God of all grace, wants to give you a heart full of grace—grace toward yourself and others. Grace involves unmerited favor, undeserved care, unearned love. Pray that you will allow the Spirit of Christ within you to produce the fruit of His Spirit through you.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

(Galatians 5:22–23)

Love                    “Lord, I will look through Your eyes of love and learn to love unconditionally.”

Joy                      “Lord, I will find joy in the little things and learn to laugh at my own mistakes.”

Peace                  “Lord, I will have peace in the midst of my storms, knowing that the Prince of Peace lives within me.”

Patience              “Lord, I will be patient with others because You have been so patient with me.”

Kindness             “Lord, I will be kind with my words and keep from criticizing others.”

Goodness            “Lord, I will look at the good in others and refuse to focus on the flaws.”

Faithfulness       “Lord, thank You for being faithful to me even when I am unfaithful to You, to myself and to others.”

Gentleness          “Lord, I will be gentle with the hearts of others just as You are gentle with me.”

Self-control         “Lord, I will give up trying to be perfect and will give You control of my life.”

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

(2 Corinthians 9:8)

E. Lining Up with the Lord

As believers grow in maturity, they are set free from the shackles of the law … free to grow in grace. You can excel in grace by lining up with the Lord. Grace enables you to accept God’s undeserved, unmerited, unearned favor despite your imperfections.

Each of these points will help you to line up with the Lord and His thinking.

Excel in Grace

Evaluate your extremes.

Usually a perfectionist is rigid, harsh and hard on others, yet Philippians 4:5 says,

“Let your gentleness be evident to all.”

X-pect discomfort.

Change is always uncomfortable. If we’re going to change certain thought patterns and change the way we’ve acted over a period of years, it can be unsettling.

“Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1–2)

Cease all comparison.

Comparison leads to either feelings of inferiority or feelings of superiority.

“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:12)

Eliminate unrealistic expectations.

The perfectionist has unrealistic expectations of self and of others.

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)

Learn to laugh at your own mistakes.

How? Focus on the humorous aspects of failure.

“All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.… A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 15:15; 17:22)

Identify your impatience with others.

Listen to your language—does it compliment or criticize others?

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Notice your need to say no.

On occasion Christ said no to others. If you are going to be Christlike, you need to know when to say no to others in order to say yes to God.

“ ‘Everything is permissible for me’—but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’—but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Grow in grace.

Pray that you will continue to grow in grace … giving unmerited, undeserved, unearned favor to those who don’t meet your expectations.

“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18)

Rid yourself of the rules.

Demolish your demands: the should’s, ought’s, must’s and have to’s.

“You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:4)

Accept God’s full acceptance.

Because God accepted you when you didn’t deserve it, you can accept others when they don’t deserve it.

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7)

Cancel condemnation.

God doesn’t focus on your flaws. Why should you?

“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Exchange your efforts for dependence on Christ’s power.

Exchange your push to perform for Christ’s performing His perfect work through you.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

God   gives you significance just by making you His child, not by asking you to be   perfect. Instead of focusing on your flaws, God focuses on your future … your   identity is in Him.

—June   Hunt

 

 

The   Perfectionist Is—
Lining Up with the Law

 

Symptoms

“Are you so foolish? After beginning with the   Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”

(Galatians 3:3)

 

Inner

 

Outer

 

•     Impatient

 

•     Difficulty relaxing

 

•     Critical in spirit

 

•     Emphasis on externals

 

•     Highly opinionated

 

•     Argumentative

 

•     Angry/hostile

 

•     Stomach ulcers

 

•     Legalistic

 

•     Emphasis on details

 

•     Unrealistic in expectations

 

•     Condemning others

 

•     All-or-nothing mentality

 

•     Compulsive repetition

 

•     Overly competitive

 

•     Rapid walk, talk, eating

 

•     Depressed

 

•     Impotency/frigidity

 

•     Feeling superior

 

•     Workaholic

 

•     Feeling inferior

 

•     Anorexia/bulimia

 

•     Fearful of failure

 

•     Procrastination

 

Excel in   Grace by—
Lining Up with the Lord

 

“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and   Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever!”

(2 Peter 3:18)

 

Evaluate extremes

 

Luke 10:38–42

 

X-pect discomfort

 

1 Peter 4:12

 

Cease all comparison

 

2 Corinthians   10:12

 

Eliminate expectations

 

Luke 6:35

 

Learn to laugh

 

Proverbs 17:22

 

Identify impatience

 

1   Thessalonians 5:14

 

Notice your need to say no

 

1 Corinthians   10:12

 

Grow in grace

 

2 Peter 3:18

 

Rid yourself of rules

 

Galatians 3:3

 

Accept God’s acceptance

 

Romans 15:7

 

Cancel condemnation

 

Romans 8:1

 

Exchange your effort for Christ’s strength

 

2 Corinthians   12:9

 

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Adderholdt, Miriam, and Jan Goldberg. Perfectionism: What’s Bad About Being Too Good? Rev. and updated ed. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit, 1999.

Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.

Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008

Leman, Kevin. When Your Best Is Not Good Enough: The Secret of Measuring Up. Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1988.

Rinehart, Paula. Perfect Every Time: When Doing It All Leaves You with Nothing. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1992.

Seamands, David A. Freedom from the Performance Trap. Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1988.

Stoop, David A. Living with a Perfectionist. Nashville: Oliver-Nelson, 1987.

Thurman, Chris. The Lies We Tell Ourselves. Nashville: Janet Thoma, 1999.

VanVonderen, Jeff. Tired of Trying to Measure Up. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1989.[1]

 


[1] Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Perfectionism: The Push to Perform (1–22). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

One thought on “Christian Biblical Counsel: PERFECTIONISM

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